co-parenting

5 Signs You’re Doing Co-Parenting Right by Kathy Johnson

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When a relationship with your spouse or partner goes south, you have to remember that they will still be a part of our life. This is especially true if you happen to have a child together.

 Even if things didn't work out between the two of you, you still share the beautiful blessing of raising a child together. This is what co-parenting is all about, as it is a wonderful way for both of you to be involved in your child's development.

A lot of research over the years has looked into the importance of supporting children through their parents' divorce, and whether or not it is possible to take care of the child’s wellbeing during this tough situation. A post on psychology by Maryville University highlights an undeniable link between mental health and academic success, which means that co-parents must collaborate to create a healthy environment for their kids to grow up in. In turn, it will not only give the children the opportunity to succeed in life, but they will also feel assured when it comes to their parents' love. That said, here are five signs to help you check if you're co-parenting properly:

 1. You Put Your Child’s Needs First

 Let this be the guiding principle in your new role as a co-parent. Despite not being romantic partners anymore, you and your fellow co-parent are now teammates in raising your child, whose best interest should be the basis of all your decisions. To determine if your team has a strong foundation, ask yourselves these questions:

• Are we putting the well-being of our child first?

• Are we setting a good example for our child?

• Are we making our child feel safe and secure?

2. You Speak to Your Co-Parent with Respect

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 From dropping off your child at your co-parent's house to attending school programs and ceremonies, you’re bound to have a conversation with your co-parent. Good co-parents understand that the way they speak to each other will directly affect their child. Researchers from the University of Vermont found that arguing in front of your child can actually alter their brain's development and cause them to process emotions negatively. To keep this from happening, remember that a divorce or a break-up isn't a declaration of war. Co-parents who seek an effective partnership post-separation must instill the values of humility, kindness, and respect in the way they communicate with each other.

 3. You Don’t Criticize Your Co-Parent in Front of Your Child

 Healthy communication doesn't only matter when you’re in the presence of your co-parent, it should also be practiced when you're home alone with your child. Certified co-parenting coach Anna Giannone writes in The Huffington Post that children take it to heart when you speak negatively about their other parent. Never underestimate the role that dialogue plays in co-parenting, as principled co-parents should always pay attention to both the words and manner used in talking about each other. Above all, both need to be selfless; neither of you should cause your child to think they have to choose sides.

 4. You Have to Master the Art of Compromise

 In our post on ‘7 Ways to Help Your Kids Have the Best Summer Yet’, co-parenting entails that both parties are on the same page when it comes to scheduling, no matter the season. Although this is easier said than done as being in constant communication with your ex can come with some challenges, responsible co-parents will understand how to compromise because they prioritize their child's feelings. Moreover, they also know how to follow the schedule agreed upon, so that their child can have quality time with each parent.

 5. You Have a Happy and Healthy Child

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 Parents usually set the path for their children, which is why seeing your child thrive in life is the most important telltale sign that you’re doing co-parenting right. Not showing your child love will ultimately cause aggressive and antisocial traits, which means that co-parents must put their pride aside and love their child wholeheartedly. Regardless of the circumstances, you and your fellow co-parent still comprise a family, and ultimately, the choices you make together will be reflected in your child's well-being.

5 Signs You’re Doing Co-Parenting Right Post, solely for the use of fayr.com written by Kathy Johnson

Be the Best Co-Parent You Can Be (Even if Your Ex Doesn't Deserve It)

Co-parenting is not for the weak of heart.

After choosing to end a romantic relationship, it can be painful to spend years continually navigating the tender and fraught landscape of parenting with your ex. As our Advisor, Gwyneth Paltrow says of co-parenting, "You have to constantly let go. You have to let go of old ideas, old resentments."

After separation the goal is to create the best, most stable, most loving life for your kids. One of the crucial ways you can do this is by creating a solid foundation with your co-parent. Gwyneth's trick? "If you once loved the person enough to have kids with them, you have to focus on what you still love about them and what's beautiful about them and all the good aspects of your relationship."  

If you're currently finding it hard to locate those things you love about your ex fear not. We have three simple steps below, as sort of "fake it 'til you make it" guide to being the best co-parent you can be (even if your ex doesn't deserve it). Because it's not for your ex. It's for your kids.

1. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Or as Leo Babuata of ZenHabits says, "take the good-hearted view." This is when we assume that people who have done something to bother us are not incompetent jerks, but are in fact good people with decent intentions who made a mistake or are having trouble of some kind. One of the most positive things we can do in a relationship with a co-parent is to take a good-hearted view of them. From this place it can be easier to assume that errors made, pickups forgotten. permission slips left unsigned are not a signal of maliciousness, but rather the normal experience of a good person trying to do their best and occasionally making mistakes. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt diffuses the situation, leaving you more content and modeling for your kids an accepting and generous relationship.

2. Speak well of your co-parent.

Kids are very astute about verbal and non-verbal communication cues. Children as young as two or three can tell when parents are in conflict. It's not just speaking poorly of a co-parent that kids pick up on. Some co-parents attempt to solve this with the age old adage "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Yet from this silence, kids learn that speaking of their other parent is taboo and partition off their lives with each co-parent. This leads to parts of your children's lives that they don't share with you and positively reinforces them withholding information, which can be harmful as kids get older.

If instead you say kind things about your co-parent, even tiny, off-handed remarks, kids will realize that your home is safe for them to discuss their full lives. Something simple like, "Oh, your dad loves this show!" or "Your mom has always had such a great sense of humor" serves to validate the kids themselves, who see parts of their own personalities and selves inside of each parent. It will give them a sense of peace that even thought their parents are not together, they do in fact still respect one another.

3. Take on more than your share when you can.

Over the course of our children's lives, there will be times when one parent has more bandwidth to dedicate to parenting. This will naturally ebb and flow with each parent's career, health and personal life. When you're in a couple, this is often decided or mapped out intentionally: the staggering of professional and personal obligations so that there is always one parent available to the kids.

This is a far more complicated balance to strike as a co-parent; you're no longer in a romantic relationship nor are you strategizing for parenting under one roof, so there's no promise of a tradeoff when each parent has independent responsibilities. And yet, if you find yourself in the place, for whatever reason, that you have more time and energy to dedicate to your kids: do. Even though your co-parent may not be able to (or not be interested in) paying it forward, your kids will benefit immensely even from brief periods of undivided attention from you.

On Fatherhood and Father's Day After Divorce: A Conversation With Michael Daniels

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Today we have a special treat, a conversation with our founder Michael Daniels on his favorite topic in the world: fatherhood.  

Michael founded Fayr in 2016 with two very personal goals in mind: to help separated parents be the best people they can be for their kids and to make the process of co-parenting easier and more enjoyable for the whole family.  

Below Michael shares the advice he wished someone had given him when he first separated, the most challenging time in his co-parenting journey, and how Father's Day has evolved over his 7 years as a co-parent.  Interspersed are a couple sweet, wise, and humorous anecdotes from his daughter Vincenza (10) and his son Vance (9).

Happy Father's Day to Michael and all of the dedicated co-parenting dads out there!

Have you always known you wanted to be a Father?

MICHAEL: I always knew that one day it was something I would do.  I don't think I had a clear picture of when it would happen or what exactly it would look like, I just always knew that having kids and being a dad was important to me.

How is being a dad different or similar to what you imagined?

In all honesty, I was worried that I might not be totally prepared to be a dad. I had an atypical and challenging upbringing. My own father was a really brave, noble guy who did the best he could to raise me, but there wasn't a lot of emotional warmth. My goal, even though it was never modeled for me, is to be really affectionate with my kids. I tell them I love them multiple times a day.    

The greatest surprise for me was that being a parent is really fun.  It’s hard work, but it’s also so great telling bedtime stories, playing with my kids, watching them grow and mature.  I don't think I had any idea how enjoyable and fulfilling fatherhood would be.

"My dad is a giving person. He’s a really funny person. And he’s the type of person that you like to be around. My very favorite thing is that he always makes time to be with us, not like most other dads."  - Vicenza

What does Father's Day mean to you?

For me, it’s about two different things: my own father and my kids. My dad passed away in 2010, right in the middle of my own separation. He was a decorated Army Ranger. I've always admired his courage and raw toughness. The lessons he taught me inspire me to be brave and strong, to know that even when things are tough, I live a wonderful life. As a father myself, I think how I want my own kids to never doubt that they are my top priority. I strive everyday to be a real presence in their lives, to be both emotionally connected and physically present for my kids. We also try to make meaningful memories together whether that be going camping, as my son's boy scout master, or teaching my daughter to ride a bike.

How is Father's Day different since your separation?

I separated when my kids were 2 and 3, so there aren’t other Father’s Days to really compare it to. In a nice way, we’ve been able to start from scratch and make this day ours. And it’s so rewarding to see them take initiative each year.

What are your favorite Father's Day traditions?

I love how my kids go out of their way to think of me. They’ll always get me a card on their own and then plan a creative, family event. Last year we did Color Me Mine together. I didn’t have any Father's Day traditions growing up, so it’s sweet to see my kids honor this day.

"My favorite thing about Father’s Day is that I have a tradition with my dad. I always get him something that stands for how great he is.  And I write on his cards about how much I love him and how much he means to me. I love watching him read my cards." - Vicenza

How has your time with your children changed as they've gotten older?

We still have a 50/50 custody share, so we spend the same amount of time together but the activities have changed a lot. When the kids were toddlers we spent a lot of time down on the ground playing. As they get older we continue to play but now we go swimming or ride bikes. I try to make certain they don’t grow up too fast, so we do still play goofy games and rough house—I think the kids don't want to give up that kind of play yet either. I know a time is coming when my kids will be more independent and will want spend more time with their friends. In the meantime, I just want to keep making the most of this period when the three of us really enjoy being together.  

What do you worry about most for your children as a separated father?

When I was separating I didn’t know what the future held—there were so many unknowns. All at once my dad got cancer and passed away, the recession hit, and my home life was changing dramatically. I worried about two things mainly.  First, I worried about the kids with all the transition they were going through. There was so much in the air, so much constant navigating for all of us between our initial separation and working out the optimal custody arrangement. I also just missed them so much as we first started spending time apart. Second, I was really worried that with all that stress that I wasn't being the best version of myself for my kids. 

What are routines, sayings, or expressions that you always share with you children?

I say I love you multiple times a day, everyday. I never want them to doubt that.

We also have a fun and kind of quirky morning routine. A few years ago I was given a really beautiful poker set as a gift from a former mentor. The kids were infatuated and insisted that I teach them how to play. So if we're having a good morning (where everyone has eaten, brushed their teeth, gotten ready for school and we still have some spare time) we will sit down and play Texas Hold 'Em together.  It's not what I thought we'd do, but the kids love it and it's such a fun and relaxing start to the day. Plus, it's our own unique thing and that's really special.

"My favorite thing about my dad?  I like how my he's always nice to me. I like how he always looks out for me and how he understand my feelings." - Vance

What is your top priority for the days you have your children?

My goals are for them to have experiences, to be active, to get outside a lot, and to enjoy time together.  

What advice do you wish someone had given you right when you separated?

In hindsight, it would actually have been some version of the advice that Dr. Sadeghi gives: don’t spend time being angry, don’t waste energy feeling sorry for yourself. You’ve gone through something really tough, but you cannot let it destroy you. Focus instead on healing, on self-reflection, on the people you love and people who love you. Make a conscious effort to not dwell in the anger and sadness of the loss but to say "This is completed, this is done.  So what now am I going to focus on in this next phase in my life?" What ultimately healed me was refocusing my attention is what matters most: my kids, my personal growth, and our shared well-being.  

What is the best thing your kids have said to you since your separation?

The sweetest thing actually just happened the other day. My daughter said sort of out of the blue, "No matter what, you are the best daddy I could ever want."  It doesn't get better than that.

Summer Break After Divorce: 7 Ways to Help Your Kids Have the Best Summer Yet

Those long, warm days of summer are just around the corner.

Summer is thought of as a magical time for kids.  It's a chance for them to shake up their routines, get outside, get dirty, learn something new and, most importantly, to have fun.  

However, for kids of separated parents -- especially those who are already struggling with the transition to two homes, a new school, a new stepparent or stepsibling -- the switch to summer mode can feel like yet another form instability in their lives.

The good news?  There are several steps that you can take on as co-parents to help your kids transition smoothly and joyfully into summer.  After all, just because you are co-parenting does not mean you child can't have an exciting, carefree summer of their own!

7 Things to do right now to get your family ready for summer break.

1. Wrap up the school year well.

The final days and weeks of school are often filled with special events and varying schedules depending on your children's ages.  Make sure you and your co-parent are on the same page about important events (graduations, honors nights, assemblies), schedule changes (half days, finals) and tasks which need to be completed (help clear out your child's cubby or locker, thank you notes for teachers) before summer begins.  A smooth end of the school year sets the stage for gentle passage into summer.

2. Confirm the details of your summer child care plans.  

With the kids out of school, as co-parents you are now jointly responsible for an additional 40+ hours of child care each week.  Make certain you're in agreement about who will be care-taking during this extra time-- e.g.: a parent, nanny, daycare, camp, or combination of several -- as well as the cost and new schedule/routine required.  This is the largest of all transitions to summer.  Having both parents on the same page will help your child feel settled even amongst the change.

3. Map out summer activities.  

Will your kids be participating in camps, teams, or lessons this summer?  Take the time to jointly review the schedule, sign-up costs, pick-up and drop-off plans, and incidental expenses for each (Does Sally need a new baseball mitt and cleats for sports camp?  Do books need to purchased for Johnny's art class?  Should Micah rent a tuba for his lessons this summer?).  By agreeing to scheduling and costs up front, you'll be able to avoid a host of potential disagreements over the next several months.

4. Make a plan for the holidays.  

There are a number of holidays between the school year's end and start: Memorial Day, Father's Day, 4th of July, Labor Day.  Determine how the kids are going to spend these holidays, who will have custody, and if that will alter your typical custody calendar.  Perhaps, if your communication is particularly strong, you could even plan a tradition or event that everyone can be present for.

5. Schedule vacations. 

The flexibility of the summer schedule often allows for one or both co-parents to take the kids for an extended trip or vacation.  Make your co-parent knows and agrees to: the dates, costs, location and types of activities the kids will be doing while there.  This type of communication promotes mutual respect and trust (and is often legally mandated, particularly if you are altering your typical custody schedule).  While you're on vacation, you can use the Fayr app's geo-tagging capabilities to confirm your location with your co-parent.

6. Allow for down time.  

All the above being said, please don't forget to set aside chunks of unscheduled time for the kids when they are at both houses. Down time is not the enemy of brain development or well-being -- quite the opposite is true.  Idleness, leisure, and boredom are good for kids.  Creating open space for "kids to be kids" prevents over-scheduling and it gives co-parents a brief reprieve from shuttling kids to and fro.

7. Share the plan with the kids.

In advance of summer break, set a time to go over the kids' new schedules and activities for the summer.  This overview not only helps kids prepare mentally for the transition to summer, it gives them space to ask questions about the changes and to express any worries or anxieties they might be experiencing.  In an ideal world, all parents and kids would be present at this meeting to ensure that the whole family is on the same page.  If this is not an option for you and your co-parent, ensure that you've agreed to the 6 points above before each parent reviews the summer schedule with the kids at their respective homes.